ROBERT K. SNIDER 1940-2001 - A Final Farewell

By Bob Weaver

There will be a few people around Calhoun who will remember little Bobby Snider, who left these environs at age 14 for the dry and hot climate of Arizona, later to settle in Billings, Montana. In those slow and lazy days of the 1950's, we would walk across the old steel-girded Grantsville bridge on long lunch hours at Calhoun County High School to meander the busy streets of downtown Grantsville.

Dr. Bob Snider and Ila Grey Snider of Grantsville

Sometimes we would get those ten cent hot dogs and always dropped by the Kanawha Theater on Saturday for the cowboy matinee and the cliff-hanging fifteen minute serials.

We talked about the tragic death of Butch Strader, a member of our 5th grade class at Grantsville Grade School. We sat in the alphabetical clump. Butch, a bright and handsome kid ran out on High Street, chasing a volleyball to be struck and killed by a car. Some fifty years later it is Bob's turn to go on. His cousin, Terry Harris, said his dad and grandfather both died about age 60. Bob was in the swimming pool, playing with his kids and grand kids when he went on.

More often than not he wanted to drop by the old Boling Clinic building to talk with the office help, fascinated with the art of healing. Much like our classmate Vearl Haynes (who wanted to be a forest ranger), Bob had early visions of becoming a physician. He told me on his last visit to Sunny Cal, when he and his wife got off the plane at the Billings, Montana airport, "This was where we wanted to spend the rest of our days." He did, one of thousands of Calhoun kids who went across America to plant roots and contribute much to the quality of life in their communities.

Fully alive people like Bob Snider are liberated by self acceptance to be authentic and real. They are further liberated to accomplish much in their lifes journey, joyful, happy and free.

Those school day kids in Calhoun County from the 40's and 50's were connected with emotional umbilical chords. While time and place has created gaps, the friendships and memories have remained in tact.

Many of the kids were educated together through the twelve grades, one day at a time. Bobby Snider was one of those people for me. We brushed shoulders, grew a few feet and talked, talked and talked until he moved from Sunny Cal with his parents when he was 14. I was sad when he moved away.

He came back three or four years ago to spread his mom's ashes on Sunny Cal sod and visit his ancestral roots. He paid a visit down on Rowels Run to his granddaddy George Richard's old place and the Cooper Cemetery where some of his mom's folks are buried. We talked a lot about writing and working on a book.

He was a reader of The Hur Herald. "Just like to keep up," he said. He wanted to go over to Ravenswood to visit Bill Barnes for a while. Bill, also a physician, died shortly thereafter, as did our other school days pal Lewis "Buck" Ferrell, who was also a doctor, the divine type.

Often sitting in the room where the Calhoun County Board of Education meets, I think of them. We all spent three years in that room with the late Thelma Stump, grades one through three. I question if that closeness exists in our schools today. Maybe there were fewer distractions. We had each other.

The foible of growing older is watching your friends depart, provided you do not go before them. But it does allow time to say good-bye and remember them as precious gifts. Dr. Bob Snider gave more than he ever received, a diamond to Billings, Montana and a sparkling memory of childhood days in Sunny Cal.